What is Candida? | The Beginning of My Sugar-Free Life

All Health Begins in the Gut. Find out about Candida, the Causes of Gut Dysbiosis, Why I Went Sugar Free, and to Improve Your Health from the Inside Out.

Is it possible to stop eating sugar?

What is candida anyway?

Why do I avoid dates, and why am I so picky about sweeteners on this blog?

Come find out.

If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you’ve noticed something.

– I don’t post recipes including dried fruits, and when I feature them (like in my Allergy-Free blog hop), I present an alternative.

– I use alternative sweeteners (like stevia and even–gasp–xylitol and erythritol.)

Why is that?

Well, I used to be a real sugar-aholic and that led to some pretty bad health effects.

I thought I really needed to share some of the story with you so that you could learn more about me–and perhaps learn how to better care for yourself and your family.

I grew up in a family eating the Standard American Diet (SAD).  A typical daily menu would look like:

– White bread toast with margarine and cinnamon sugar on it (and it wasn’t my Healthified Cinnamon Sugar)
– School lunch (maybe pizza, milk, and dessert.  When I got into high school, it was likely
–  Pasta, stir fry, etc.
– of course, after school snacks of dry cereal, ice cream (like Breyer’s Natural Mint Chip)

Of course, there was variation, but you get the idea.

As I grew older, my “health consciousness” grew, and I started eating more and more vegetables and fruits, and even whole grains, but I still was a real sugar addict.

I even worked at an ice cream parlor for years, which was a completely bad idea.

All employees would snack on the ice cream and candy bar toppings (when we had time), and there were numerous days when I came home stuffed and just couldn’t eat dinner.

Years went by.  I ended up with health issues that no one could connect the dots with.

itching in my ears, which the doctor said was likely just dry ears “It’s a vicious cycle.  Just stop scratching them.  It’ll go away.”
vaginal itching (diagnosed as vaginitis)
–  tinea versicolor (a fungus that discolors the back and abdomen with white, itchy spots.  Typically it shows up in summer months.)

And as more years went by, more conditions showed up:

on and off fatigue
mood fluctuations
I clearly remember the day (about 3 years ago) when I was standing after church, talking with two friends of mine.  They were talking about candida.  And sugar.  And changing their diets.

I was listening, but basically might as well have had my fingers in my ears, because I didn’t want to hear what they were saying.

They were talking about:

severe mood fluctuations
vaginal “issues”

(Hmmm…sounds familiar, eh?)

And they were talking about candida.

I’d heard about candida, but no doctor had said that I had it.  They should know what they are talking about, right?


One of my friends said she had had manic-depressive episodes and thought she’d have to give up homeschooling, but going sugar-free had helped her greatly.

I. didn’t. want. to. hear. that.

Me?  Give up sugar.

No way.

I really was basically standing there with my fingers in my ears humming to myself to block out their words…..

Well, fast forward six months or a year.

My symptoms progressed.  Now I had:

severe fatigue
mood swings and depression (it’s pretty easy to be depressed when you are severely fatigued.)
itching scalp (sometimes this got pretty bad.)
insomnia (I had always had a hard time sleeping, but it was getting worse.)

I felt like I’d hit rock bottom.

I didn’t know what to do, but a friend who participates in our family’s whole foods co-op shared her struggles with sugar and candida with me.

She pointed me to a site called Whole Approach.  I took their Candida Symptom Assessment Questionnaire and my score was super high.

My allopathic background (I had been pre-med in college) led me to be suspicious of any “self-diagnosing questionnaire”, but I needed help.

I poured over their site, and ordered their cleansing and candida-killing supplements, and started the candida diet.

Well, there is a lot more to tell.

I had horrible die-off reactions the first two weeks or so of the diet.

My diet had changed and now I was eating:

no sweeteners that feed candida (sugar, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, agave, maple syrup, honey, etc.)
no fruit
no dried fruit
limited starches

Later, after following their protocol pretty carefully, I found myself in a pit of bad health again.

I’ll be sharing more about that later.  But let’s just suffice it to say that I now think there is much more to treating candida than just cutting back on sugars and starches.

I do think checking out Whole Approach’s site for dietary ideas and for their self-assessment can be quite helpful.

But I think you’ll be intrigued to hear more about candida and its ties to other health issues in the future.

We’ve had a lot of health struggles in our family.  It is hard to deal with them all, but I do hope that what I share can bring help and healing to others.

UPDATE –  June 2013.  There is a GREAT Gut Health Course (I am an affiliate for the course, so if you register through my link I will get a commission) that is going to be taught starting July 10 for 10 weeks.  It’s a great “learn when you can” ecourse so you can follow along at your own pace and learn in the comfort of your own home.

You can get all of the details by clicking on the image below.

Heal Gut June 2013



Other Health-Related Posts:

Could You Have Heavy Metal Toxicity and Not Know It?
Just Tired?  Or Something More?  Take This Quick Test
Just a Red Face? Or Something More?
Food Allergies and Eczema – From Despair to Healing

Some of Our Favorite Sugar-Free Treats:

Healthy “Almond Joy” Bars
Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Homemade “Jello”
Chocolate Chip “Cheesecake”-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes (dairy-free) 

(Now remember: I am not a doctor and this post is not to be construed as medical advice.  You should consult with your physician before making any dietary changes or trying any supplements.  But you knew that, right :-)?)

For more of the story, read Candida, My Childhood, and 5 Causes of Gut Imbalance and Busting a Popular Gut Health Myth.

Have you thought about going off of sugar?

This post contains an affiliate link or two.  Please read my disclaimer.
Shared at Food Renegade.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. My whole family tested positive for candida using the spit test. Even my 7 year old. We don’t do antibiotics now but did in the past. Been sugar and grain free for 10 days and, honestly, it sucks. Especially for my husband and kid. Taking Thorne Formula 722, coconut oil, raw garlic, Bragg raw vinegar before every meal, a little raw honey with cinnamon (the good cinnamon), kefir, and Keybiotics. Praying we can add in some starches soon. Before we kill each other. 😉 So far my kid’s allergies seem a tiny bit better, my husband had a skin issue that seems to be improving, and my scalp itches a little less. Hoping it will help my bloating so I don’t literally look 6 months pregnant. Few headaches for me, but not seeing any other die off yet.

  2. Holy cow! My Candida questionnaire score was 220! Um, crap!!! I don’t even know where to go from here. 🙁

  3. Keesha Doss says:

    I know this is going to sound rather silly but I am so glad that someone else has itchy ears! Drs thot I was crazy! I was beginning to think I was, too! Lol!
    My question: Can you go sugar-free like you did while breastfeeding? I have a 7 month old girl. I have an insanely leaky gut. She gets severe exzema every time she feeds from me. I think my adrenals are shot. Probably lazy liver and kidneys. I can’t eat much of anything. Trying to work w/ wholistic dr but so expensive.

    • Hey there! Yes, misery loves company, eh :)? Or should I say :(. Yes you can of course lose the sugar while breastfeeding as it isn’t a necessary nutrient, however I can’t make medical claims so please check w your doc. I know, I have to say that. I so would love to help and have a lot to share …..but I am not a practitioner. There are typical things you could do. Perhaps we could arrange something via email but again, I can only share my own experiences – not prescribe.

  4. Minor perhaps. but you can’t itch an itch. You can only scratch an itch. If you’re publishing, you really must learn this distinction.

  5. Brandy @ A Mindful Mantra says:

    Great read! I, too, did not think I could give up sugar. But, it was so worth it. I was shocked to learn that my vaginal infections, stomach bloat, constipation, skin rashes, depression, anxiety, and mood swings could all be linked back yeast. It changed the entire course of my life!

  6. Yes some fruit has been bred to be sweeter with a higher fruit content, but this is because they are fruits that live outside of the tropics and we have now adapted them to our sweet tastes (which is not a bad thing).
    When humans lived in their original environments near the equator they had plenty of wild, naturally sweet fruit. Humans are natural frugivores so eating lots of fruit is perfect for us. Also NYSTATIN is as natural as they come, its from the soil originally, and is 100% recovered in fecal matter, you don’t absorb any of it (unless you have a leaky gut). The real problem is fat. When you eat fat it blocks the insulin receptors on the cells causing you to need more insulin, wearing out your pancreas leading to diabetes. It also increases your blood sugar as the sugar can’t get into the muscles to be used as quickly as it should.
    There is plenty of people living off nothing but fruit (sugar!) and they are super healthy.
    I haven’t met any healthy people living on a ketogenic diet. As you said yourself after cutting out all sugars your health was still crap. Try High Carb Low Fat Raw Vegan, or even easier High Carb Low Fat Cooked Vegan and you’ll be away laughing!

    • Hi there. I hear you, but I think that gut flora has changed so much that we are much more susceptible to the overgrowth of candida than in years past. I am also not sure about us being natural frugivores. Where do you have that information from?

      I have done a lot of healing since then but still eating too many carbs doesn’t work well for me. I stick to a modified low carb diet with some healthy carbs put in mainly at lunch and dinner. You can read more here: http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/thyroid-disease-hashimotos-blood-test/ Thanks!

  7. Hi, can I give you a little gold nugget of information concerning candida? 🙂

    I’ve removed massive amounts of candida in my body accidentally within a week., because I tried a homemade calcium supplement. My skin cleared up and itching was gone, and energy levels were back. I was also having candida die-off symptoms too. Anyway, if you try, you will see for yourself.

    My homemade (traditional) calcium supplement was like this:

    1. Take a whole fresh egg, wash it with vinegar, to remove residues and the factory stamp. Rinse with water afterwards.
    2. Squeeze 3-4 lemons and strain the juice into a medium mason jar.
    3. Put the egg in it (the whole egg, don’t crack it).
    4. Leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day, consume a tablespoon of the liquid. Swish the egg gently so that the juice mixes well with the dissolved shell.
    5. Consume within 1 week, 1 tablespoon every day, and keep it in fridge.

    It’s so powerful, I couldn’t believe it. After all, it’s just some lemon juice dissolving the egg shell calcium. But it’s easily absorbable.

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